Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The Bud Calderwood Interview
The RadiKal: Who are you? How long have you resided in Alachua and what, if any, positions of leadership and/or community service have you held?
Bud Calderwood: I graduated from Univ. of Penn College of Veterinary Medicine and came to Gainesville in 1971 as a faculty member of the College of Medicine in the Dept. of Anesthesiology. I was there for five years and then moved over to the College of Veterinary Medicine for four more years. I left as a tenured Associate Professor to start the first private practice of veterinary medicine in Alachua in 1980. Since that time I have been on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, serving as President twice. I am on the Board of the Alachua Historical Society as Treasurer. I was a member of the Friends of the Alachua Library, for the City I served on the Police Pension Board, the City Land Development Regulation Committee and The Greater Alachua Transportation Taskforce. The Chamber recognized me as Businessman of the Year and as Volunteer of the Year, I have served as Chairman of the Annual Christmas Parade for the past three years and as a member of the Annual Sportsfest Committee since it’s beginning. The Sportsfest has raised over $100,000 for youth sports in Alachua. I am also a member of the City’s Recreation Board. I was a member of the Annual Good Life Community Festival when it was active several years ago.
I came to Alachua because I saw it as a growing community way back then. Alachua has an interesting history. It was basically a one company town when the Copeland Sausage Co. was open. It was bought out and then closed before I came to town. That closing devastated the economy and the City was close to bankruptcy. Some visionary Commission businessmen realized that they needed to do something to revitalize the city. James Lewis was one of those men. They borrowed bond money to bring water and sewer infrastructure to the city. That combined with the location of Alachua in the Rt 441 and I-75 corridor drew attention to Alachua. General Electric opened a battery factory, Driltech (now Sandvick) and Hunter Marine opened. IBM bought 2000 acres with plans to open a computer manufacturing plant. The rest is history as they say. The IBM land sat vacant for close to twenty years and then was bought by WACO Corp. who proposed a DRI which was ultimately turned down. Since then the property has developed with Dollar General and Wal Mart Distribution Centers. Sysco Corp. is in the process of opening a third distribution center. We see that High Springs, Newberry and towns like Hawthorne are just now putting in the infrastructure that Alachua has had for forty years. That is one measure of why Alachua has had such positive growth.
Alachua has averaged about a 6% increase in residential growth for the last five years which is about the state average. Compare that with the County which is less than 3%. The increase in jobs in that period is around 2000 which includes 950 in the high tech industry at the Progress Corporation Park.
The RadiKal: How has the City of Alachua grown over the years? Are there any areas of the community (e.g. industry, agriculture, tourism) that you'd like to see more on emphasis placed on?
Bud Calderwood: Alachua has averaged about a 6% increase in residential growth for the last five years which is about the state average. Compare that with the County which is less than 3%. The increase in jobs in that period is around 2000 which includes 950 in the high tech industry at the Progress Corporation Park.
I see two groups of people in Alachua, the “old timers” who lived thru the Copeland closing and who remember the bad times for the city. Then there are the new people who moved here from Gainesville to live in the country and those from south Florida who want to get away from that urban environment. This is the clash of forces in the political arena. I believe that the present commission has been able to juggle those two groups. The City has joined the twenty first century and also been able to keep the small town charm that we all want while having a diverse tax base of industrial and residential so that no one group is supporting the other. We are growing into a self sustaining community with a wide variety of good paying jobs so that the younger generation doesn’t have to move away for employment opportunities. I want to see more diverse jobs brought to Alachua. We are getting a Santa Fe Community College campus with all the educational opportunities that brings.
The RadiKal: To the best of your knowledge what exactly is NUBA, the ALA? How are these groups similar, how do they differ, and what (if any) contributions do you feel they make to the City & its residents?
Bud Calderwood: NUBA stands for Neighborhoods United for a Better Alachua. The name changed from The 441 Group to Neighborhoods of Distinction to NUBA. I was never a part of the group except to help them once with a fund raising project for which I got little to no recognition.
TThe ALA had lost all credibility in Alachua due to their no growth agenda. In my opinion, the core ALA group was looking for a way to build support in the Black Community. McCoy, the Canneys and Thomas organized a group that called itself the 441 Group. They recruited several blacks like Louis Washington, Michael Perkins and Leslie Richardson. They looked for a project to endorse and decided to use the long dormant Community Center. Around this time there was a falling out between core ALA members. These are very negative people and I guess their personalities got on each other’s nerves plus they were not getting anywhere with taking over the Commission. The ALA is the morphed result of another group, The Alachua Community Association, Inc. The original group formed to fight the Dollar General Center . They were primarily residents who lived near by and these ALA people joined them. Let me interject, this whole issue is about growth vs no growth.
When they were not able to stop the DG center the original group disbanded. They had incorporated and the present ALA members took over their 501C corp.
What has NUBA contributed to Alachua? I give them credit for pushing the present day Cleather Hathcock Community Center project. However, as the project was coming to a close the cooperation between the City and NUBA fell apart. My wife was a major player in getting the city to move on this project. The NUBA people (at least the white members) decided that they wanted to control the center and even name it. The City said no. It was city property, city liability and city staff that was to man it. The property had originally been donated for a center to be named after Hathcock, a long time black city commissioner. The white NUBAs wanted to name it after some white civil rights woman from Calif. I believe. Well that started a real battle which has ended in the black members of NUBA divorcing themselves from the Canneys et al. The black members were happy to see it named after one of their own but the Canneys et al went to the mat to fight for what they wanted. More reasons that CG only got 10 votes in that district.
What good has the ALA done for Alachua? Nothing but division and disruption for the city and costing the city hundreds of thousands of tax dollars defending itself from frivolous lawsuits.
The RadiKal: In your opinion, what was it like having Tamara Robbins on the City Commission? I've heard some stories about ALA members and the city, could you share any you might have heard about?
Bud Calderwood: Tamara Robbins was the worst commissioner I have seen in the twenty seven years I lived in Alachua. In my opinion she has a serious anger management problem. She can be charming if she likes you but watch out if you disagree with her. She called my wife a prostitute at a public meeting. The two City Managers that worked under her described her to me as “evil”. She abused city staff to the point that some would not take a phone call from her unless it was on speaker with a witness in the room. The City Planner complained that she felt that Robbins was trying to give her directions, which is prohibited by city charter. Her vendetta against Clovis Watson is legendary. She even filed a police report that she felt threatened because he hung up on her during one of her shouting escapades. There is at least one police report of her ex-husband reporting that he was a victim of domestic violence. She walked out of a Commission Meeting once when she felt that she couldn’t get her way. Her no growth agenda went so far that she tried to return grant money that had been awarded to the city for projects for the Wal Mart Distribution Center . The city attorney had to tell her that that would be illegal as the city had signed on to the project. Ms. Robbins doesn’t like me.
The RadiKal: Name Association, one sentence or less what comes to mind:
Connie Canney:Bud Calderwood: I have rarely seen her smile. She seems to be a very unhappy person.
Stafford Jones: Bud Calderwood: He is a dedicated, hard working Chairman of the Republican Executive Committee. He took over a badly run committee and has straightened it out and has it moving in a positive direction.
Theresa Kenyon: Bud Calderwood: She is a no non-sense active member of Alachua. Her concerns are primarily directed toward school related issues but doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind.
Carol Thomas: Bud Calderwood: Another very unhappy person, in my opinion. I dislike the fact that she won’t Pledge Allegiance to the flag at commission meetings, a habit she shares with Grapski.
Ron Dupont: Bud Calderwood: I have known him since before he took over the Herald. His main interest is in the environment but seems to have become the mouth piece for Grapski. They feed him their agenda and it looks like he supports it. He knowingly published an edited video of the Grapski-Brady incident. I find that very unprofessional for a journalist.
Charles Goston: Bud Calderwood: I have only recently met Mr. Goston. He is the Chairman of the Black Caucus of the Alachua Democratic Party and supported Bonnie Burgess in her successful campaign for Alachua City Commission.
Orien Hills: Bud Calderwood: Mr. Hills was born and raised in Alachua and has been a member of the City Commission for many years. He is a retired school teacher and serves as the City’s representative to the County School Board .
Michael Canney: Bud Calderwood: I don’t trust him. He has been very hostile to Brady to the point that Brady had to call the police because of his shouting obscenities on city property. He is a very poor representative of the Green Party of which he is the local Chairman.
Clovis Watson: Bud Calderwood: I admire the fact that he has overcome a poor beginning in the projects and managed to educate himself and reach such a high position as City Manager. Everyone that I know who has known him since childhood admire him. He has a great future in politics if he wants to go that route.
Charles Grapski: Bud Calderwood: In my contacts with him I find him to be a consummate liar. I don’t know if he does it for effect or if it is pathological. Some have said that he suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I can see that he has a lot of the clinical traits. Unfortunately NPD victims seldom seek help as they don’t realize that they have the disease.
David Pope: Bud Calderwood: He was raised in Alachua in a farm family. He is presently the Chairman of the Board of the Suwannee River Water Management District. He is also the Ag Manager for N.G. Wade Investment Co. He ran for the State House of Representatives and lost by approximately 600 votes.
Ward Scott: Bud Calderwood: He is a Professor of English at SFCC and long time friend of Clovis Watson who was one of his students. He ran for Alachua County Commission as a Democrat several years ago. The Dems pulled a political maneuver with a write in candidate to prevent Republicans from voting for him. This played a big part in his changing Parties to Republican.
The RadiKal: For those at UF/Gainesville unaware of all the players, could you tell us, in your own opinion, who Paul Rothseiden is and what is his role, if any, in the ALA?
Bud Calderwood: Paul Rothseiden is a bully. He has threatened me on more than one occasion and has made ugly comments about my wife to me. Paul can be counted on for financial support of ALA candidates. He supported Grapski in his House and city commission races.
The RadiKal: There are rumors that Grapski may have security personnel, I think these assertions are ridiculous. However, has Charlie Grapski or any member of the ALA (again in your opinion) ever resorted to physical abuse, be it on person or property?
Bud Calderwood: The rumors that Grapski has security personnel are false. Grapski doesn’t resort to physical abuse. He uses verbal abuse to get his way. There have been a number of incidences of property vandalism. The Alachua County Today have had their paper stands spray paint numerous times. My practice was spray painted twice with anti-Wal Mart graffiti. An ACT paper stand was found on a Rothseiden property.
The RadiKal: Could you talk to us about who Mr. Lewis & Mr. Irby are and the 2006 City Commission election was so close? Also, do you believe there was any deliberate foul play carried out by way of the City of Alachua government? Why or why not?
Bud Calderwood: Both Mr. Lewis and Mr. Irby are life long residents of Alachua, although Mr. Irby did move away for some years. Mr. Irby is the brother of William Irby, a much liked Principle of a school in Alachua. He got instant name recognition because of this. I don’t think it was an accident that his political signs emphasized the name Irby. It did cause confusion in some citizen’s minds. A point not missed by the ALA members who backed him and worked on his campaign.
The election was close because there was unrest in Turkey Creek over a development at the entrance to the community. Some blamed Lewis and voted for Irby. The usual no-growth people voted against Lewis because of the whisper campaign conducted by the ALA.
I am not aware of any deliberate foul play in the election by the City. There were some minor errors which can be expected in a small town without a permanent elected Supervisor of Elections. It never raised to the level of fraud that Grapski claimed. Reading the Summary Judgment arguments for both sides it is evident that no fraud was uncovered or supported by testimony.
The RadiKal: What concerns, if any, do you have on Charles Grapski's claims that the City is so indebted that it's charging folks $500 dollar utility bills? Please give us as much information as possible on this.
Bud Calderwood: I have given you evidence that the utility rates of the City are inline with other municipalities in the state. The claims that the City is over charging its citizens is ridiculous. People with high bills have reasons for that and it isn’t the rate that they are charged. Problems with poor insulation, setting thermostats too high in winter and too low in summer, leaving light on and doors open all contribute to the high bills, not the rate. The City just got very high marks for its financial health. We have a diverse tax base that helps the residential home owner. The City lowered its Ad Valorum tax rate and still had a great report from the auditors.
The RadiKal: What are your thoughts on Mayor Calderwood asking Mr. Grapski to leave various City Commission meetings and for the APD's decision the charge him with a felony for resisting arrest?
Bud Calderwood: The Mayor runs a very organized meeting. Before she became mayor the meetings ran over midnight on more than one occasion due to people high jacking the agenda. She feels that every citizen is entitled to a meeting that stays on agenda. Everyone has time to speak to the issue without being rude or insulting. Mr. Grapski likes to high jack meetings to get attention to his agenda. There are better ways to make his points without the theatrics and disruptions. At times it looks like he does this on purpose to antagonize the city and try to get them in a situation that he can bring a lawsuit.
The RadiKal: To the best of your knowledge, what would your response be to allegations made by ALA members like Michael Canney who say that the COA keeps tabs on them? Do the City and/or its supporters actually spy on or keep tabs on ALA members?
Bud Calderwood: I am not aware of any effort to spy on the ALA members. This is a small town and people move around and see and talk to one another. If you don’t want people to talk about you, move to a big city.
The RadiKal: What are some of your thoughts on the incident at the Rec. Center? There is talk of assault by Michael Canney?
Bud Calderwood: In my opinion this was another staged media event orchestrated by Mr. Grapski and Mr. Canney. If they had a real problem with Mr. Brady they should have gone through the proper channels and not harassed Brady and the rest of the staff. Mr. Canney has been accused of invading people’s private space with his video camera. In my opinion this is done intentionally.
The RadiKal: Is the City of Alachua' government in Republican hands? How many Democrats, if any are currently in power?
Bud Calderwood: First of all the commission is non-partisan, but in reality there are four Democrats and one Republican on the dais. The split of the voters is about two thirds Democrat and twenty five per cent Republican and the rest No Party or Independent.
The RadiKal: The Walmart issue is a no doubt a divisive one. I opposed the Super Center in Gainesville, but apparently you support it in Alachua. Unlike Gainesville, it seems that the anti-Walmart movement in Alachua has resorted to other tactics. Could you elaborate on your own personal experiences and/or property damage with this movement? And, do you draw any connections between this movement and/or Charlie Grapski and/or the ALA?
Bud Calderwood: I don’t have strong feels about the Wal Mart Supercenter being proposed for Alachua. I rarely shop there. I prefer small businesses that offer better service and more convenient parking. I did support the Wal Mart Distribution Center. There is a big difference between the retail division and the distribution division. Number one is the wages paid and the benefits offered their employees on the distribution side. The distribution industry is one of the cleanest businesses there is and is sought after by cities and counties that want clean industry and good tax bases.
My wife and my support of the Wal Mart DC brought us into the cross hairs of the ALA. We have endured many slanderous comments and ugly name calling. My veterinary practice was vandalized twice with anti-Wal Mart graffiti. There are police reports of the incidents. As I have said before the primary political issue in Alachua is growth. The ALA are definitely anti-growth. Mr. Grapski’s motives are unclear at this time but his association with the ALA lead me to believe that that is also one of his also. I also feel that there are county/Gainesville parties who have their hands in our politics, primarily Busy and Mike Byerley. I don’t think it was a coincident that Mike Byerley showed up with Mr. Grapski in one of his staged media events on the steps of Alachua City Hall . Mr. Byerley doesn’t come to Alachua very often.
The RadiKal: In closing, what do you think the administration of Gib Coerper will do for the City of Alachua. Do you perceive he will be any more, or less, successful in dealing with some of the more pressing matters at hand that Mayor Calderwood? Do you feel there will be any sort of tactical change by the ALA to engage Mayor Coerper than say with Mayor Calderwood?
Bud Calderwood: Gib Coerper has served as Mayor before. He is well qualified to run the commission meetings. I expect that Grapski and Canney will test him soon. It will be captured on video, I’m sure.